It's amazing to see how well The French Connection holds up almost 50 years after its original release date. This intense crime thriller, based on the non-fiction book by author Robin Moore (itself based on the real-life "French Connection" scheme), became one of several critical and commercial hits by acclaimed director William Friedkin, whose follow-up project would be a little smash hit known by the name The Exorcist.
A winner of several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The French Connection tells the story of two police detectives "Popeye" Doyle (Hackman) and Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (Scheider). Two rough-around-the edges cops, they work for the drug enforcement division in downtown New York, tracking down targets involved in drug connections and other schemes throughout town. They soon hear, however, of a large-scale operation stemming from Italy about to take place, led by crime lord Alain Charnier (Rey). The race is on for Popeye and Cloudy as they try to uncover the mysteries behind this operation and put an end to it before all hell breaks loose.
In a time when political opinions and personal beliefs are being questioned now more than ever, it seems appropriate to begin the newest blog on this website with a film that tries way too hard to question the merits of organized religion. Never heard of this movie before? There's a good reason why.
Monsignor was a film created by a predominantly independent director named Frank Perry, who had a number of early critical hits in his career before spiraling out of control with flop after flop after flop. This film is one of them, although not the most notorious one in Perry's career.
Loosely based off of a novel written by Jack-Alain Leger, Monsignor includes well-known actor Christopher Reeve as its main star, fresh off of the success of Richard Donner's Superman and Richard Lester's Superman II. Not wanting to become typecast as the iconic superhero, Reeve became interested in the project for looking to portray a different kind of character with extreme moral ambiguity. As far as bigger names go (besides, surprisingly, composer John Williams), that's about it for the picture.
Christopher Reeve plays Father John Flaherty, a World War II veteran who practices Catholicism and serves the Lord as a priest. When assigned to the Vatican, Flaherty becomes their primary accountant, but this immediately goes awry when he persuades the Holy Father to tap the Church's funds into the black market (through Mafia means, no doubt) and use the profits for their goodwill and charity to their devotees. On top of this, Flaherty begins an affair with a nun and creates a web of lies and mistrust ultimately leading to disaster.
Director: Frank Perry
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Genevieve Bujold, Fernando Rey, Jason Miller